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Music Blogs

Tracks of the year 2012

  • By MisterCharlie Author Avatar
  • 6 December 2012

Amidst arguments, recriminations, bloodshed and violent debates on the relative merits of including anything by Rihanna (the 'Yes' vote lost, and is still sulking in the corner...) we've final whittled down our favourite tracks of 2012 to a proud Top 30. We're not to militant on the order (how do you decide if The Shins are better than Frank Ocean?) but we think every single track is a belter, and sure to be listened to for years to come. Do you agree? Let us know....

30. Wolf by First Aid Kit

Swedish acts continued to pour into our welcoming ears, and First Aid Kit came along with their folk sounds to deliver a treat. Our favourite, Wolf, wasn’t even on some editions of this year’s album, but their globally assured voice was clear: you’d be hard pressed to guess Sweden when it sounded so Americana.

 

 

29. Sunday Drive by Ladyhawke

There are two absolutely banging tracks on the new Ladyhawke album that sound quite similar, and one of our staff wanted to pick ‘Anxiety’ out of the pair. While there’s no doubt that song appeals to people suffering from mental health issues, Sunday Drive is the one that appeals to all, and it’s a sharp piece of synth pop which, once again, got overlooked by the charts.

28. Death Grips – I’ve Seen Footage

In a chaotic year for the band, this explosion of pent up paranoia, internet horror tube and punk rock guitar showed them at their splintered, subversive best. An anthem for a generation of kids who's  world comes filtered through conspiracy websites and pirated media.

 

27. Palma Violets - Best of Friends

There's a lot of hype, and with Best of Friends, Palma Violets proved themselves ready for it. A slice of timeless indie yearning to pierce the hardest heart.

26. Elastic Teen Rent by Drop Out Venus

The problem with encountering a song through a video can be the visuals marking it, and when Elastic Teen Rent begins with the music-porn image of a young woman in knee high socks and short shorts, you wonder where they’re going. But when this woman stares out of the screen like she’s just murdered your cat, if not your partner, and as this song snarls away you’re taken to another place entirely, a place that’s dangerous and possibly deranged. B-side I Kill Foxes is more brutal, and not for the faint of heart.

25. TNGHT – Higher Ground

An unholy meeting of Scottish beat wizard Hudson Mohawke and American hip hop producer Lunice, TNGHT opened their account with a monstrous piece of music. Higher Ground is a big bastard bully of a track, smashing all before it in an ill tempered stomp. Dance music at it's most thrilling and visceral.

 

24. Spiteful Intervention - Of Montreal

Of Montreal’s last couple of albums have been a mess, and if we’re being honest Spiteful intervention is also a mess. But what an absolutely glorious mess, as ideas come and go like a Moorcock novel, as the lyrics switch from dark to dangerous, and as the whole package sounds like someone’s mind fracturing on record. There’s still talent here, even if we can’t recommend the rest of Paralytic Stalks.

 

23. Sweet Sweet Lies - Capital of Iceland

Sweet Sweet Lies created a great album that went largely unnoticed, and Capital of Iceland is both the first track and the best. It’s an indie pop song about breaking up, but while the rest of the album handles the regrets, this talks of bringing in a replacement. Okay, maybe it’s a little sexist, but the style, the humour and the shot of pantomime villain make it sing.

22. Grimes – Oblivion

We weren't quite as wowed by the album as some of our colleges, but there's no denying that this candy toothed pop confection pulled off the tricky double job of being musically complex and flippin' fun. In the perfect future, all pop stars would be forced to study Grimes to learn how to do it properly.

21. Django Django – Hail Bop

 

It's hard to pick a single track off Django Django's debut album, when the whole works so gloriously together. Still, we had to get them on the list, so consider this entry to represent every single they released this year, plus the whole of the album, because it's ALL GOOD. Plus writing chirpy songs about obscure cosmic death cults is always a winner in our book.

20. Jesse Ware – Running (Disclosure mix)

Disclosure ruled cooler dancefloors this year with their deep, heady updates of UK Garage. This rework of Jesse Ware proved to be their irrisistable, greatest moment, a propulsive groove that seduced your feet and showcased Ware's smooth vocals in an ideal setting.

19. Simple Song - The Shins

The soaring guitar arpeggios made all the difference - this yelping shot of genius from The Shins flew. And whilst we're focussing on tracks here, it'd be crazy not to mention the fact that the video was bloody brilliant as well...

 

18. Jagwar Ma - Come Save Me

 

Jagwar Ma's ace track managed the tricky job of throwing together Phil Spector, house music and shoegaze into 3 and a half minutes of madness, without sounding crap. Uplifting and brilliant 

17. Ill Manors - Plan B

No one expected Ben Drew to reclaim the protest song with such force. A timely explosion of social commentary couched in biting satire and explosive rage, iLL Manors was a far more complex lyrically proposition than it was often taken for, and showed that hip hop still has the power to speak brutal truth.

 

16. Grew Up At Midnight - Maccabees

In a great year for the Maccabees, they finally delivered the album everyone knew they were capable of. Grew Up At Midnight was just one track amongst many to prove their maturity and vision.

 

15. Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings by Father John Misty

Few songs had as immediate impact as Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings, as those drums catch your attention and the vocals stretch out Jesus Christ. Anyone who thought Joshua Tillman’s time beyond Fleet Foxes would be spent riding on coattails was put in their place, and while this track is the highlight of his, aka Father John Misty’s album, it would be on most albums.

 

14. Andrew in Drag by The Magnetic Fields

The Magnetic Fields staged a triumphant return to what made them great, and how many other singers would be happy to sing an ode to loving only one woman / man, your mate Andrew in drag? Some bands need six minutes and a big build, here they needed a little over two. Okay, you might not want to play this in some situations, but relax, enjoy it, and welcome to a world of pleasant confusion.

 

13. Reagan's Skeleton by Yeasayer

Do they mean former US President Ronald Reagan? There’s plenty of references to satellites… Either way, Yeasayer’s organic electronica proved you don’t have to stick to early Horrors mock goth or seventies Goblin soundtracks to do something horrorific, and do it well.

 

12. Get Free by Major Lazer

Hands up if you heard this and didn’t immediately think Major Lazer? It’s got that ‘take the best bits from over the entire world and mix them together into something special’ element that defines them, but from a group known best for bangers this slowed down, but still political, song helped win them a new set of fans.

 

11. Platoono of Uno by Antlered Man

As January came to a close, and as we slumbered, so did Antlered Man come along and give us a solid kick. Platoono of Uno is a mixture of pounding rock and crazed vocals, with lyrics which ask the very pertinent question: “so if there’s a God, what is the plan, what sick motherfucker would invent a man?” Welcome to 2012, it was going to get different.

10. Mykki Blanco – Wavvy

It seems patronising to talk too much about a queer New York hip hop scene, as though the tracks bubbling up from New York's gay underground wasn't the best hip hop being made. In a year that saw great break through work from rappers Zebra Katz, Mykki Blanco and Le1f, it's been hard to pick a pinnacle, but we'll go with this track from Blanco, a sick, jittery cut that sounds like a hungry young Busta Rhymes. Compelling and excellent.

 

9. Arctic Monkeys – R U Mine?

The Monkeys went to the States and got their rock on. And it really worked. So much better than plowing the same indie route, Turner and co's embracing of filthy stadium sized riffs and balls out howling gave them their strongest single for years. We can't wait to hear more!

 

8. Brasstronaut – Mean Sun

This has got to have the best use of a theremin since Portishead's debut. Mean Sun, from the excellent album of the same name, was a hung over, sun drenched downer of a song. It lingered long after the dying notes, like a disquieting dream.

7. Sappho by Tribes

Britain began the year by being told Tribes were the new indie savours, and while they disappointed the Pitchforks of this world, tunes like Sappho stood out. Okay, they stood out to the atheist half of the Supajam office, but when they sing “how do you tell a child there’s no God up in the sky?”, they were connecting and going beyond the tales of love and urban life which rounded out the rest of the LP.

6. Ty Segall  - Inside Your Heart

A greta song from a great album. Ty Segall finally got his dues this year, and a listen to the twisted garage licks of Inside My Heart tells you exactly why.

 

5. Frank Ocean – Thinkin Bout You

Whilst his debut album may have been a little over rated, the opening track was one of the most beautiful pieces of songwriting we heard all year. A mournful piece of deep sea soul, Ocean's strained falsetto was one of the most heart rending vocal performances of the year.

 

4. Tessalate - Alt -J

On balance, we think they deserved the Mercury. Tessalate is the sort of wonderful, intricate song that Alt-J do so well, and on an album full of gems, our favourite moment.

3. Jack White - 16 Saltines

As an opening salvo for his solo career, it was damn fine. Sixteen Saltines rocks like a beast with a bad head, and is proof (if proof were needed!) that White can do just fine, thanks without Meg...

 

2. Teenage Icon - The Vaccines

Doubters silenced, charts assaulted, job done. Turns out The Vaccines are as good as we hoped they would be. With a proper work rate, and a seemingly bottomless bag of great tunes, we're pretty sure they're only just getting started.

 

1. Tame Impala - Elephant

Named number one by virtue of being loved by all of our staff, Tame Impala made one of the albums of the year, and in Elephant, reclaimed glam rock from the 70s dustbin, gave it a sprinkle of lunacy, and unleashed it bold and wonderful back onto the world.

 

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